Briton Khawar Qureshi to drive high-level graft cases

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Director of the Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has appointed Queen’s Counsel Prof Khawar Qureshi to lead corruption cases against judicial and government officials.

In a notice on December 3, Haji said he picked the London-based professor through single-sourcing after failing to find a suitable candidate through advertisement. The appointment conforms to the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, Article 157 (9) of the Constitution and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act.

“Taking into account the transnational nature of the offences, the complexity and the special skills required to maintain the integrity of the process, the DPP has deemed it prudent, and has decided to appoint Khawar Qureshi, QC, and his assistants to be consultant and lead prosecution counsel on behalf of the ODPP,” stated the notice on the website of the ODPP, adding that single sourcing was done because it was not possible to find suitable candidates locally owing to the unique nature of requirements and the complexity of cases.

The DPP explained that a private prosecutor would look, and be seen to be looking, at the law independently, without any external interference, and would therefore inject confidence in cases of great public importance, which involve State and public officers. Among the senior officials facing graft charges are Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, several principal secretaries and former and current governors.

Commonwealth way
“In order to ensure transparency and independence in dealing with these cases, to build jurisprudence, to allow pragmatic interpretation of the Constitution and to avoid conflict between the ODPP and the Judiciary, we deem it prudent to engage private foreign counsel to deal with these matters,” Haji noted.

He added that it is the practice among commonwealth nations that when senior members of the bench and/or government are on trial, members are invited to handle the proceedings.

“This rationale is further fortified by the fact that the stakes in such cases are very high and therefore, it is necessary that the proceedings are insulated from the public perception of political interferences or perceptions of such interventions.”

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